2011-11-03

no usage scenario for ssh-agent forwarding

Many people, especially those in consulting business have need to access multiple different organization 'jump boxes' from which they can ssh towards the organization servers. And due to security it makes sense to have different ssh key being allowed for different organization servers. For convenience people often allow ssh-agent towards the 'jump boxes'.

Problem with ssh-agent is, that it has no idea who is requesting the key signing, it could very well be organization1 evil admin asking for organization2 key, when sshing into organization2 jump-box, and your agent would simply allow this.

One solution to the problem could be that when ever signing is requested, user gets prompt 'localhost < organization2-jump < organization2 requests sign of organization1 identity, allow yes/no, [ ] always'. Now you'd have idea if sign request is legit or not. However this would require protocol changes to ssh, as ssh-agent has no idea who is requesting signing much less of the full path, which would be absolutely needed to make this feature work.

So I asked openssh dev mailing list, how this problem should be solved. Turns out there is recently added feature in openssh, which could potentially remove need for agent forwarding completely, to access organization1-server through organization1-jump you'd do ssh -oProxyCommand='ssh -W %h:%p organization1-jump' organization1-server, now obviously this is inconvenient, especially if there are more than 1 box through which you need to jump. .ssh/config can help somewhat:

# cat >> ~/.ssh/config Host org1-ultimate ProxyCommand ssh -W %h:%p org1-secondjump Host org1-secondjump ProxyCommand ssh -W %h:%p org1-firstjump ^d

Now you'd ssh 'ssh org1-ultimate', which would really go to org1-firstjump -> org1-secondjump -> org1-ultimate. ssh key would work without forwarding it, and transit nodes wouldn't see unencrypted data. However, still seems like large overhead, what if there would be syntactic sugar do do this:

# cat >> .ssh/config Host org1-ultimate path org1-firstjump, org1-secondjump ^d # ssh org2-firstjump,org2-secondjump,org2-ultimate # ssh org1-ultimate

1 comment:

  1. What about IdentitiesOnly yes in your .ssh/config ?

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